As more governors around the country are feeling the pressure to reopen their local economies, we keep hearing the same plan being repeated. The plan is that we need to open the economies very slowly and very methodically.
However, just on the surface this approach doesn’t make much sense. For example, let’s say local economies reopen and there is a huge increase in coronavirus cases. What are we really going to do then? If after two months of intense shutdowns the virus still immediately comes back, it means we are simply going to have to deal with the consequences. We can’t have two more months of shutdowns or wait a year for a vaccine anyway. Our decision will be made for us at that point, and no viable options will really be available.
Slow and phased reopening isn’t like dipping your toe in the water where if the water is too cold, you don’t have to jump in. If we “dip our toe” so to speak by slowly reopening and cases surge, we don’t have the option of not re-opening for another year. It’s simply not a real option, as the economic devastation would be catastrohpic and worse than the virus.
So these slow and steady reopening measures are not really giving us any real options other than prolonging what will happen anyway. Either we reopen and everything is fine, or reopen and cases spike. Nothing we can do in the next year can stop the worst of those two options if that’s what plays out. Sheltering in place for a year until a vaccine is available simply isn’t an option.
However, I don’t think that’s how it will go. Data from states that didn’t shutdown as well as countries like Sweden suggest the complete shutdowns were probably an overreaction. A reopening now will most likely only produce a small increase in cases and nothing significant enough to warrant further economic restrictions.
But there is a bigger reason that the slow and steady approach is wrong, and that’s because the real reason behind it is to provide an excuse for when there are no huge spikes in infections when we fully reopen.
If the states all fully reopened on May 1st, and two weeks later the total coronavirus cases in America were still declining, people would start to question why we did the shutdowns in the first place. But if instead we take a slow and “phased” approach, the governors can claim a huge success by stating their “smart” approach saved their state and prevented countless deaths.
This is exactly how most politicians think, especially ones that are successful enough to make it to the governor’s mansion. Everything they do is a political calculation. They weigh the pros and cons each decision will have on their own political career, as well as whether or not they are provided cover in case the decision goes wrong. By that sort of calculus, the decision to slowly reopen economies makes total sense. It gives them the ability to take credit for something that would have happened anyway, and it also provides cover for their past knee-jerk shutdown policies. But it also creates additional suffering, so Americans will be forced to endure more economic hardships simply so governors around the country can cover their own ass.
So for those who have been forced out of work or had their businesses shutdown by these overreaching local officials, get ready to be lied to once again. This time it will be your local governor praising themselves for expertly opening the economy in a way that saved countless lives.
Note: If you enjoyed this article, please make sure to share it!